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Tennessee Vols leave The Swamp winless — again — during their game against Florida on Sept. 16. The Vols have not won in Gainesville since 2003.
Calvin Mattheis, Caitlin McMekin, Ayrika Whitney/Knoxville News-Sentinel

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Tennessee twice overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit Saturday, only to have its comeback hopes crushed on Florida’s 63-yard Hail Mary as time expired.

More: Anatomy of a Hail Mary: How the Florida Gators beat the Tennessee Vols with one 63-yard pass

More: Florida Hail Mary sends Vols Twitter into spiral

Here are the high points and low points from Tennessee’s 26-20 loss to the Gators.

BEST OF THE DAY

Justin Martin’s hustle

Probably everyone inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium thought Malik Davis was going to score as he approached the end zone during the fourth quarter at the end of a 72-yard run. No one was between Davis and the goal line.

But Martin, UT’s senior cornerback, fired in from behind to strip the ball loose just before Davis broke the plane. The ball squirted out of the end zone for a touchback.

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Brent Cimaglia’s debut kick

Tennessee hadn’t attempted a field goal through two weeks,

Aaron Medley has been handling kickoffs and extra points, so Cimaglia, a freshman, had been a spectator until drilling a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter. It marked UT’s longest field goal since Michael Palardy hit from 51 against Missouri on Nov. 2, 2013. 

Cimaglia, however, missed from 47 and 51 on his next two attempts.

Tennessee’s response after turnovers

Quinten Dormady threw three interceptions. One was returned for a touchdown. Nothing the Vol defense could do about that. But after the other two, Tennessee forced a three-and-out.

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Tennessee Vols walk up to The Swamp before their game against Florida on Sept. 16.
Caitie McMekin/Knoxville News-Sentinel

 

WORST OF THE DAY

Tennessee’s defense on the final play

Feleipe Franks’ 63-yard heave to Tyrie Cleveland as time expired gave Florida the victory. Vols coach Butch Jones said that once Franks extended the play by breaking free from the pocket, “anything can happen.”

True.

The play started with nine seconds left from UF’s 37, and the Gators had a timeout remaining.  Defensive tackle Kendal Vickers said the Vols had to honor the threat of an intermediate pass that could have set up a potential game-winning field goal.

“I definitely thought they might try to get into field-goal range,” Vickers said.

Valid point.

Nonetheless, the Vols allowed two receivers get behind their two safeties. Had Franks not thrown to Cleveland, he could’ve found Brandon Powell, who was open a little behind Cleveland and to his right.

Tennessee’s execution a yard from the goal line

Marquez Callaway caught a short pass over the middle midway through the third quarter on third-and-19 and weaved his way 22 yards to give the Vols a first-and-goal from the 1.

The Vols made a mess of the opportunity.

Dormady threw into double coverage on first down and was nearly intercepted by Duke Dawson. But Florida followed the play with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, moving the Vols 18 inches from the end zone.

A false start backed the Vols up 5 yards. A Dormady incompletion and a negative-1-yard pass to John Kelly followed. On third down, Dawson intercepted a pass intended for Josh Palmer. It looked like there might have been miscommunication between Dormady and Palmer on the route.

Unsportsmanlike conduct penalty

John Kelly was, once again, tremendous, but his celebration after a 34-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter was a poor choice. For one, the Vols still trailed 13-10. So, scoreboard, you know?

More importantly, Kelly was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, a penalty assessed on the ensuing kickoff. 

Cleveland returned the kick 46 yards to the UT 44, and Florida converted the field position into a touchdown.

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